ELKO — U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Thursday introduced a bill to streamline permitting for mining and energy projects while not taking away from the environmental analysis process.
The senator also included the proposal in a larger Republican jobs package, according to the announcement.
“As tens of thousands of Nevadans continue to look for work, it’s time for Congress to go in a new direction. Passing this common-sense measure to create jobs is a good start,” Heller said.
“Nevada is fortunate to have resources in our own backyard that can provide job opportunities, but job creators need access to them. By shortening the time the Department of Interior has to complete certain administrative reviews, we can reduce red tape in the permitting process and help new projects move forward in a responsible manner,” he said.
Mining companies continue to call for streamlining the permit process once the local U.S. Bureau of Land Management offices have completed their work and state offices have forwarded proposals to Washington.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who took Heller’s place on the House side, said earlier this week in Elko that speeding up permitting is one of his priorities, as well. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval wrote to President Barack Obama urging the streamlining of permitting.
The permitting measures Heller introduced apply to mining and energy development projects.
The Public Lands Job Creation Act gives Interior 45 days to complete the review process of notices sent from state BLM offices before they appear in the Federal Register.
The National Mining Association supports the Heller bill.
“Good mining jobs are created by investment in mining projects. But the United States continues to attract a diminishing share of worldwide investment in metals mining because of the length, complexity and uncertainty of our permitting process,” Hal Quinn, president and chief executive officer of the National Mining Association, said Thursday.
He said the Heller legislation “puts a time limit of 45-days on one, primarily administrative, choke-point in that process-the Department of the Interior’s policy for processing certain administrative notices for mining operations and other commercial enterprises on public lands.”
Quinn said the senator “has put his finger on one needless bureaucratic impediment to job creation — an impediment that further exacerbates our growing dependence on outside sources to meet the nation’s mineral needs.”
Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, both R-Utah, John Hoeven, R-N.D., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and John Thune, R-S.D., are co-sponsors of Heller’s bill.